The Truth About Aluminum Door Doors
It’s easy to see why aluminum door hinges aren’t popular in the automotive industry.
They’re more susceptible to cracking than metal ones.
But it’s hard to argue that aluminum doors are inherently less reliable.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the most common types of aluminum door hinge failures involve “drainage failures, electrical failure, electrical leakage, and electrical shorts,” according to an NHTSA press release.
So why aren’t aluminum door handles more popular?
It’s mostly because of the backlash against aluminum doors from people who’ve heard the argument that they’re more likely to break.
The problem is that there’s not much research that supports the claim that aluminum handles are less reliable than metal handles, and the evidence points to the contrary.
In an article published by The New York Times in 2014, for instance, a team of scientists reviewed data on 14,000 aluminum door handle failures and concluded that “there is no evidence that the use of aluminum handles results in more than a small incremental increase in the number of failures or that the probability of failure is increased.”
The problem with this conclusion is that the data was collected from a small number of incidents where an aluminum handle was damaged by a bolt or by a fall.
But there’s enough data from the data to suggest that aluminum door grips have a higher probability of failing than metal handle grips.
So what’s going on here?
The researchers found that the more aluminum handles used in an automotive vehicle, the greater the probability that a handle would be damaged by falling.
They also found that aluminum handle failures were more likely when aluminum handles were used in conjunction with metal door hinges.
They found that a “small incremental increase” in the odds of a handle being damaged by an aluminum hinge failure was enough to increase the odds that the handle would fail.
In other words, aluminum handles have a much higher chance of breaking than metal door handles.
In a separate study published in the American Automobile Association’s journal Automotive Research, the same researchers found a similar pattern: When aluminum handle users used an aluminum and/or plastic hinge to attach an aluminum door to a car, the chances of a door being damaged went up.
The researchers concluded that it’s more likely for an aluminum or plastic hinge that the hinge is attached with a metal or plastic body than it is for an internal metal or wood body.
The more aluminum or plastics used, the higher the odds.
The researchers found the same pattern in a study published by the Society of Automotive Engineers in 2013.
In the study, they found that “in the case of metal door hinge use, the odds for a metal hinge failure were significantly higher for aluminum hinges than for plastic hinges.”
So aluminum hinges are much more likely than plastic hinges to break than plastic ones, in part because aluminum handles often have an internal structure that helps them resist the force of falling.
Theoretically, it would be possible for an exterior aluminum door, for example, to be held together with a plastic body that would be stronger than the external hinge.
But this doesn’t happen in the real world, and there’s evidence that indicates that aluminum is more likely in some ways than metal to fail.
The National Highway Safety Administration says that the chances for a failure are higher for a hinge that is “used in conjunction” with a handle than for a handle that is used alone.
And a study of 11,000 car door hinges by researchers at the University of Michigan found that if the hinge has been used in a combination with metal doors, the probability for a complete failure is 1 in 3,400.
A 2014 study published as an AP-Huffington Post article by researchers from the University at Buffalo found that in a vehicle with an aluminum body, the likelihood of failure was even higher: “Anecdotal reports indicate that aluminum hinges, when combined with metal body doors, may result in failure of the hinge or an injury of the hinges.”
The AP article also found a “high degree of concurrence” between the likelihood that a hinge was used in combination with a door handle and the likelihood it was broken.
In that case, the authors found that, “the probability of an individual door failing was significantly greater than the probability expected by chance alone.”
This suggests that a metal handle, not an aluminum one, may be more likely.
The bottom line is that, for the most part, aluminum doors have a lower likelihood of being damaged than metal doors.
However, the research is encouraging.
A study published last year in the Journal of Industrial and Engineering Mechanics found that when aluminum doors were used together with metal hinges, the researchers were able to find “significant differences in the risk of a hinge being damaged or an impactor breaking into the door” between aluminum handles and metal hinges.
So while the odds may be high for aluminum handles, it’s possible that the odds are even higher for metal hinges when combined.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.